This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Washington • Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman is still under consideration for a position in the Trump administration, possibly a senior role at the State Department or an ambassadorship, a source close to the White House confirmed Friday evening.
Huntsman, a former U.S. ambassador to China and Singapore, had been a top-tier candidate for the secretary of state position but President Donald Trump opted for former Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson, who was sworn in Feb. 1 as the nation's top diplomat.
Trump this week nixed one contender for deputy secretary of state, Elliott Abrams, who had served under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.
CNN, citing unnamed Republican sources, said Trump passed on Abrams because of his criticism of the president during the campaign.
The source close to the White House, speaking to The Salt Lake Tribune on the condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to comment publicly about the matter, said Huntsman was "under consideration" for a job either at the State Department or possibly another ambassadorship. The source, who has no ties to the Huntsman family, would not elaborate.
Huntsman had backed Trump's candidacy as it became clear he was the odds-on favorite to win the GOP nomination, saying in late April it was time for Republicans to rally around the candidate. He later said that he would vote for Trump despite "fundamental philosophical differences."
After the infamous "Access Hollywood" video emerged, with audio of Trump talking about grabbing women's genitals and forcing himself on women, Huntsman changed his mind.
"In a campaign cycle that has been nothing but a race to the bottom at such a critical moment for our nation and with so many who have tried to be respectful of a record primary vote, the time has come for Governor [Mike] Pence to lead the ticket," Huntsman told The Tribune at the time.
Huntsman declined to comment late Friday.
More recently, Huntsman has been considered a potential candidate for Senate from Utah in 2018. He hasn't said whether he will run for the seat, but he praised Sen. Orrin Hatch for his service to Utah for "nearly half a century." Hatch has yet to decide if he'll seek an eighth term.
Huntsman was elected to two terms as Utah governor, in 2004 and 2008. He stepped down in 2009 to accept President Barack Obama's appointment as U.S. ambassador to China. He previously had served as ambassador to Singapore during the administration of President George H.W. Bush and as deputy U.S. trade representative under President George W. Bush. He speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese.
In 2011-12, he made a short-lived bid for the White House. The campaign ended with him endorsing eventual Republican nominee Mitt Romney, a longtime rival.
Huntsman previously served as vice chairman of Huntsman Corp., a global chemical and manufacturing company with headquarters in Salt Lake City.
Editor's note: The Salt Lake Tribune is owned and published by Paul Huntsman, the brother of Jon Huntsman.